The new consumer survey research from the 2017 Census shows that 53 percent of U.S. consumers identified “easy to use” as the main reason for participating in a loyalty program, topping “gives me great discounts” (39%) and “easy to understand” (37%) among other reasons. Conversely, the top reason given for abandoning a program was “it took too long to earn points or miles;” a concern cited by 57 percent of respondents. Additionally, the COLLOQUY Census shows that 51 percent of Americans still trust loyalty programs with their personal information. Other key findings:
- The retail sector accounts for 1.6 billion reward program memberships, making it the largest slice of the loyalty pie. The biggest driver for active participation within retail is that the program is “easy to understand.”
- Notably, grocery program memberships dropped to 142 million, compared to 188 million in 2015, continuing a downward trend in three consecutive Census reports. The 24 percent decrease is due in part to mergers and acquisitions within the industry.
- Memberships in the financial services sector continued an upward trend, rising to 664 million versus 578 million in 2015. Cash back incentives led the pack when respondents were asked why they participate in financial loyalty programs.
- The travel and hospitality sector, covering airline and hotel programs, plus restaurant, car-rental, cruise line and gaming programs, accounts for 1.1 billion memberships, the 2017 Census shows.
- One of the most dynamic loyalty sectors, identified as other/emerging, covers online-only offerings, entertainment, daily deals, point aggregators and card-linked offers. Census research shows U.S. consumers hold a total of 462 million memberships in these evolving programs, and this sector accounts for 12 percent of the U.S. loyalty market.